2010 Farm to Table Agriculture Series

In February 2010, Shenandoah Forum announced it would host a series of public forums and workshops over the coming months focused on strengthening the agricultural base of Shenandoah County, both economically and environmentally. 

The project -- dubbed Farm to Table -- targeted Shenandoah County's diverse farming sector and includes farming operations of all sizes and types - whether traditional or modern, long standing or new, large or small. The Farm to Table series includeds programs to assist current and prospective farmers, farms involved in agritourism, as well as our vineyards and wineries, orchards, woodlots and trout farms.

While aimed specifically at the farming community, the sessions were intended for consumers who value local resources and look for ways to ensure their availability and public officials seeking to realize the vision of the Comprehensive Plan for a rural character and sustainable agricultural future for Shenandoah County.

Shenandoah Forum hopes these programs help to raise the awareness of our community that, even in today's convenience food economy, "Eating is an Agricultural Act," one that deserves our attention and support. Understanding how we can achieve a more secure future for our community through a locally sustainable food system that creates more profitable farming practices and more informed choices for healthy living is our goal.

Forums Scheduled for March and April 2010
The project began in March with a series of two public forums, each a two-hour evening program addressing long-term financing options for farms.

Farm to Table 2010
A Special Thanks to our
Farm to Table Supporters!

Forum Sponsors:
Shenandoah Community Foundation
Shenandoah County Farm Bureau

Forum Community Partners:
Bowman Apple Products
Wayne and Beverly Butterfield
Potomac Conservancy
Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation
Shenandoah Valley Network
Turkey Knob Growers

Forum Contributors:
Eric Dalke
Jeff Dalke
Friends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River
Kennedy Konstruction - Edinburg,
MidAtlantic Farm Credit
New Market Rotary Club
Valley Conservation Council
Doug Veach, State Farm Insurance
Forum #1: "Extending the Season: Long-term Planning Options"
Speaker: Dr. Ron Hanson is the Neal Harlan Professor of Agribusiness in the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Dr. Hanson is a widely traveled national speaker on the importance of maintaining healthy family relationships and the future of the family farm. Dr. Hanson's presentation "You Can Buy the Family Farm But Remember I Still Own It" identifies and discusses issues confronting succession of a family-owned farm business. This humorous and motivating message is filled with "true to life" anecdotes to help families work through the process of moving America's agriculture to the next generation  --- vital to the future of our economy and our society.

Presentation Summary from March Farm to Table Series
Forum #2: Sowing the Seeds: Building Lasting Agriculture 
Craig Sweger, 2008-2009 Program Director for the Agricultural Entrepreneurship Program with the University of Pittsburgh's Institute for Entrepreneurship Excellence, is an experienced agricultural businessman and respected advocate for the agricultural community who has for decades been connecting economic development leaders and members of the agricultural community. Mr. Sweger discussed the successes and challenges of the Agricultural Entrepreneurship Program, designed to keep land, farms and farmers in the business of farming by linking farmers with available agriculture-based and business support-based resources. The evening also included a discussion on innovative financing options for farmers, farms and the land with Lisa Anne Hawkins and John W. Flora from Lenhart Obenshain in Harrisonburg, Virginia
Mr. Sweger's Presentation from April Farm to Table Series

Forum #3
The October Farm to Table included a presentation by Ken Meter from Crossroad Research Center on the current state of the Shenandoah Valley's local farm and food economy and strategic approaches for building a stronger homegrown food system that addresses the community and its needs. There was also a vendor showcase highlighting existing local food options throughout the county and a locally sourced meal prepared by Shenandoah Farms in Mt. Jackson.

To see a list of vendors participating in the October 14th Farm to Table.

For a copy of Ken Meter's study on "Shenandoah Valley Local Farm and Food Economy."
Forum Creates Ag Initiative
In an effort to realize some of the exciting ideas that arose from our Farm to Table series,
Shenandoah Forum created an agricultural initiative in 2011. We will continue to sponsor programs to boost agriculture and build support for a local food system including opportunities that exist in value-added visitor experiences, farm products and appropriately-scaled manure-to-energy projects.